This semester, I am teaching a graduate course on the history of economic thought. In it, I take a slightly different approach to the subject than most such classes. I do not follow any chronological order, I do not assign any full books or classics, nor any textbooks. Not that these alternative approaches do not have their advantages. However, my goal is to show students how economists, mainline and mainstream, have debated specific issues of doctrine that remain crucially important to the professional discourse to this day. Perhaps a bit more unique to my syllabus is the emphasis on topics near and dear to our hearts at CSOC: economic calculation, the division of labor, property rights, and transaction costs. Bonus: No macro! 😉
The Revue d’Économie Politique is running a special issue on the economics of conflict. In my contribution I develop and apply a basic framework to study the evolution of a ruler-principal’s choice of how to compensate their warring-agents.
Here’s the abstract:
Economic approaches to conflict tend to focus on its determinants, on the factors influencing its outcome, and on its consequence to the distribution of resources. Relatively little attention is paid to the ways these parties structure the internal organization of their efforts during conflict. This paper builds on the theory of contract choice to develop a framework for the analysis of military groups. This framework produces predictions on the systematic variation of military organization under different technological and environmental circumstances. These predictions are tested against historical evidence on a variety of historical case studies.